Don “Slim” Stabenow died at Providence Hospital in Anchorage on September 2, 1998. His wife, Jean, and his daughter, Dana, were by his side.
Don was born in Murray, Idaho on March 17, 1927. He was a member of the Merchant Marine during World War II, and was wounded off
Okinawa in 1945, always claiming that it was by flak from one of our own antiaircraft guns. “Shot in the ass by friendly fire,” was how he put it, and it
made a better story anyway.
He came to Alaska first on board a Liberty ship in 1945, and returned for good in 1947 via the Alaska-Canada Highway. In those days, the Mounties
stopped travelers at the Blueberry border crossing to check their supplies. Dad and his friend Omar “Mac” MacDonald had twenty gallons of gas, four
cases of beer and two boxes of cheese crackers. The Mountie said, “Shit, boys, if anybody makes it, you will” and waved them through.
Don spent the next forty years helping build the state of Alaska. He worked for Emil Usibelli and Cap Lathrop, helped build the Seward Highway, the
Susitna gas fields, the TransAlaska Pipeline and half the subdivisions in Anchorage. His daughter Dana says “It was an education shopping for a house
with him. We’d drive into a subdivision and he’d say, oh yeah, I helped lay the fill here. Check the wallboard, see if it’s cracked.”
He worked his way up from a laborer to heavy equipment operator and master mechanic. He could repair anything with moving parts, from a ’61 Ford
Falcon to a Caterpillar tractor. “He was a son of Martha,” Dana says. “He made things work.”
The only thing Don was religious about was not letting work interfere with hunting season. In 1990 he retired on an IBEW pension and became a
full-time recreational pilot who, his friend Sandy Beach says, “knew more about Super Cubs than Piper did.”
He met the love of his life, Jean DeLavern, in 1993. It was his wish to have his ashes scattered at their lodge near Skwentna, where they were married.
He is survived by Jean and Dana, by daughter Janet and sons James and Michael, by grandson Joseph, and by friends too numerous to mention.
A memorial potluck was held at the Moose Lodge in Anchorage on September 13. Ralph and Belita came from Naknek, Sandy and Barb came from
Sitka, Geoff came from Hawaii, and they and about 150 others ate and drank and told Don stories for four hours.